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Unsurprising claim: Neanderthal cooks used wild herbs

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They weren’t shopping at Bulk Barn?

The image of a Stone-Age man grasping the bony end of a bloody mammoth leg and chomping down on it with powerful gnashers is taking a bit of a battering. We already know that Neanderthals were partial to delicacies such as fish and small birds, with a healthy helping of plants. Now some are saying they might have flavoured their meaty feasts with wild herbs, too.

Without a time machine to take us back 40,000 to 50,000 years, the suggestion remains highly speculative. But our long-lost cousins were clearly not the carnivorous beasts we once assumed them to be.

And you assumed them to be so because … oh yes, once upon a time, Darwin … and the swellest idea anyone ever had. Maybe they just liked spices, which people have killed for.

The idea that they were partial to a handful of herbs comes from the hardened plaque – or dental calculus – chipped off the teeth of a 50,000-year-old Neanderthal from El Sidrón in Spain. More.

See also: New Scientist’s usual inventive PC gabble: Women invented weapons

Neanderthal Man: The long-lost relative turns up again, this time with documents

A deep and abiding need for Neanderthals to be stupid. Why?

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